Debunking Skin Cancer Myths

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Skin cancer scare is an issue that should be treated seriously because it is the most common form of cancer affecting at least 2 in 3 Australians before the age of 70 years. 

The ultimate key to prevention is understanding risks and learning to protect yourself.

So here we are debunking some of the well-known skin cancer myths and getting to know the truth behind them. Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Myth #1: People whose daily routine does not involve being outdoors are not at risk to get skin cancer.

Truth:- Unfortunately it is determined by dermatologists that exposure to the sun for a brief period of time throughout the year without adequate protection could do significant damage for people especially with fairer skin tones. When we say, brief moments it can vary but includes walking outdoors during peak sun hours, not using sunscreen when going out in the sun or simply travelling under the sweltering sun (vehicles with the sunroof open, motorbikes, bicycles). The best course of action that you could take is to exercise sun safety tips and avoid the risk of UV exposure during the sun peak hours which are between 10 am to 4 pm.

Myth #2: Dark-skinned people will not be diagnosed with skin cancer.

Truth:- While individuals with fairer skin tones, freckles & light-coloured eyes, are at higher risk of developing skin cancer when compared to dark-skinned people but they are also likely in a position to be diagnosed with skin cancer. Therefore regardless of your skin tone, chances of you developing skin cancer could be higher or lower but inevitable.

Myth #3: Teenagers & young adults do not have to worry about skin cancer, unlike older people.

Truth:- This is one of the biggest misconceptions in reality because Melanoma is the most common form of cancer that affect young adults between the age of 25 – 29 and it is also known to develop faster in females between ages of 15 to 29. While older people are at high risk due to their age and their weakened immune system which does not necessarily mean it would not affect young adults. The younger you are exposed to the sun, the higher risk you are at for getting skin cancer later in your life this could mean a bad sunburn in your childhood or young adulthood could potentially play part in getting diagnosed with skin cancer in your older age.

Myth #4: Sun exposure only causes skin cancer.

Truth:- Exposure to the sun for a prolonged time without adequate protection is a primary cause of developing skin cancer, but other factors could also be considered such as:-

  • Someone who has a family or personal history of skin cancer
  • Over 65 years of age
  • People who are red-haired and/or have light-coloured eyes
  • Ultraviolet radiation exposure from tanning beds (frequent tanners)
  • Individuals who spend a lot of time outside for work and play
  • People with a weakened immune system

Myth #5: Tanning beds are not harmful.

Truth:- If you are someone who still believes tanning beds are 100% safe, we are extremely sorry to break your bubble but it is not. In reality, tanning beds emit the same harmful UV rays as the sun but in much larger amounts. If you are someone who frequently uses tanning beds there is a high risk of developing Melanoma and it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use tanning beds. So, anyone who is underage, we’d rather have you sneak into an R-rated movie than let you step into a tanning bed. (Please don’t sneak into an R-rated movie just because we said so).

Myth #6: You do not need to wear sunscreen during cloudy days and winter.

Truth:- Regardless of any type of weather, harmful UV rays are present throughout the year and could reach your skin and cause damage to your skin. Therefore it does not matter if it’s sizzling summer or winter wonderland it is important to protect your skin.

Myth #7: Sunscreen gives complete protection against the sun.

Truth:-  A sunscreen with a broad spectrum can protect the skin from both UVA rays that cause tanning and premature ageing and UVB rays that cause sunburn. While a  sunscreen of SPF 30 will block 97% of the sun’s rays while a higher SPF will block slightly more UV rays but unfortunately, no sunscreen will block 100% of the rays. Therefore always go for a sunscreen with SPF 40 or 50 as it will give you a little bit more protection against the sun.

Myth #8: You need to apply sunscreen once a day for adequate protection.

Truth:-  Sunscreen only works for a limited time before a reapplication is needed. You need to reapply sunscreen 30 minutes before venturing outside and reapply every two hours of exposure and immediately after excessive sweating or swimming. Make sure to apply generous amounts of sunscreen to areas that will be exposed to the sun, including easy to miss spots such as your scalp, back of your neck, tops of your ears and behind your knees.

Myth #9: Cosmetic products with SPF is sufficient to provide enough protection against UV rays.

Truth:-  Truth to be told cosmetic products do not contain any sun protection formula at all and even if it does, it would not be sufficient to protect your skin against the sun’s harmful rays. Always opt-out for products that contain SPF 30+ or higher to provide sufficient protection for a prolonged period of time.

Myth #10: You don’t need to be concerned about skin cancer until it is at an early stage.

Truth:-  Prevention is better than cure, take the responsibility to protect your skin against the sun’s harmful rays by practising sun safety tips, adequate application of sunscreen, performing skin self-check on regular basis and consider getting an annual professional skin check from skin cancer clinics based in Melbourne. Learn to protect your skin by paying closer attention to it.

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